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PMC 2006, Day 2: Bourne to Provincetown, 78 MIles

PMC LogoSunday, August 6, 2006

Whoo! Three days in a row, and I'm up with the alarm clock at some ridiculous hour (read: "before 7 am").

I told Mike yesterday that I'd meet them all by the bikes today at 5 a.m., but later I was reminded that anyone who is staying off campus is NOT to ride back over the bridge to the MMA. (Since it's not a group start on Sunday, it's no big deal.) I called Steve a few minutes after 5 to let him know I'd just meet them at the first water stop.

Like this story? Check out the comments in the forum! Participants have included other PMC riders and even one of the long-term PMC Road Crew volunteers.

When I got off the phone with Steve I was ready to go, and I even had my gloves and shades! The bike was disassembled in the back of the car (setting up the bike rack last night was going to be too much hassle), but it only took a few seconds to put it back together. I rode out, and found to my surprise that everyone coming off the Bourne Bridge rode — literally — right past the hotel entrance. Cool!

Knowing they had a five minute ride to the bridge, and then probably ten minutes to crawl over the bridge, I decided to wait there instead of riding ahead. There were two other guys doing the same thing. I said good morning, and one of them just stared at me intently. I cocked an eyebrow, and he slowly... pointed... to... his... head.

Aw nuts. In a flash, I rode back to the hotel, clomped back inside, clomped down the hall, knocked loudly on the door (and heard something like, "oh brother, he can never just leave for a ride!"), thanked my sweet wife for waking up this time, grabbed the keys to the car, clomped back outside to the car, GRABBED MY HELMET from the back (right next to where my bike had been), threw the keys onto the chair on the patio by the room's sliding glass doors (Corinne was watching, so she knew where to get them), and rode back to the waiting point.

Paul on Bourne Bridge See what I mean by, "Classic Seth?" I really don't even get upset about these things anymore.

When I returned to my waiting spot, the rider who pointed at his head said, "Hey, that's better." Then he started chatting with the rider on his other side. The third guy said, "There are a lot of nice bikes here this weekend." (Certainly true.) Pointing-man's response? "There are a lot more nice bikes behind me than there are in front of me." Ugh. What a snot.

Steve had said they were ready to go when we spoke on the phone, so I figured that I must have missed them. I waited a few more minutes. When they didn't show I decided to chase them down. Just like last year.

I averaged 22 mph for most of the canal road. Not a blistering pace, but fast enough that I was pretty sure I'd catch up with them at or before the first water stop. The canal road is a lot of fun: it's almost totally flat, so the challenge is finding a pace you can maintain for the whole length that won't leave you burned out for the remaining 70 miles. Last year's 24 mph was a little too high, 22 felt just right.

If you ride fast on this road, you will inevitably "pick up a tail." I was no exception (and people do seem to enjoy drafting me). I knew there were riders back there, I could hear their gears shifting and other little sounds.

Two thirds of the way along the canal road, a voice bellowed from behind me, "Seth! I can't maintain this pace!" Oh good grief. "I was trying to catch you!" I bellowed back to Steve. (He wasn't serious about not being able to maintain the pace, but he was right that there was no need to push it now that we were all together.)

When I was leaving my post at the bridge's exit, they were almost there and had seen me. So, they chased me down. I had no idea they were there until Steve called out. (Did I mention the problem with us all looking the same from a distance? Different jerseys today, a lot more variation, but at this point it was still pretty dark.)

Just a few miles after the canal road is the climb up to the service road that runs parallel to Route 6 for miles.

Grr. I just spent a bunch of time setting up a little Google Earth Fly-Through for the first leg of the ride... only to have Google Earth crash just as I finished. Lost all of my work. OY! Would have been a cool download.

This climb is really the first pain of the day. I warned Paul about it, and then a little later Mike did the same, pointing out that the riders ahead would tend to bunch up because the hill slows everyone down so much, so he should be prepared.

My next words were, "Oh my word, that kid climbs like a monkey going up a tree." Zoom. It was beautiful, and he didn't slow down until he was at the top.

I was feeling GREAT, so I took off after and almost caught him just before the top. The difference, though, was that I burned my fuse down a lot more than he did. (If he was five pounds lighter, he'd literally be half my size.) I went up that hill at much closer to maximum effort than he did.

For the Fun of It

If you look back over this site, you'll see this is my sixth year and that cycling is one of the things I've always written about. Sometimes it's technical, sometimes it's about the sport, but there's one constant: I ride because I love to ride. There's nothing more to it. Yes, I'm competitive sometimes, but I'm not a racer. Yes, I want to ride better, but that's just because I like how it feels to ride really fast.

Seriously. If you think there's anything more to it, please point to the evidence. On the other hand I have links from this site's first year that say the same as the previous paragraph, but in fewer words. Like this:

I'm a cyclist. I love to ride, on the road, for long distances and as fast as I can. This is where I keep track of my rides, and my performance.

(I feel like that was written by someone else, or in a previous life, but the words still ring true for me.)

Why bring this up now? Because riding with Paul really "made the weekend" for me. In *my* opinion — and that's all this is — we have a very similar attitude about riding. It's simple: we do it because it's fun!

I know Paul's a competitor (as am I), and he'll probably go on to be a racer (which I didn't and won't). But this weekend, as I watched him bounce his way up the hills (he rides a little like Thomas Voeckler, but he's just getting started so we won't hold that against him), I felt like he was a kindred spirit. He ran fast and free when he wanted to, while at the same time trying to not get too far ahead of his Dad.

It's weird that I came to this conclusion, as I barely knew Paul at all before this weekend, but that's how I see it. When other riders are panicking about maintaining the pace, or are hollering at someone (like me) to "hold the line" as if we were fighting trench warfare, I just wanted to go faster and farther. It looked to me like Paul did, too.

(This isn't meant to be a comment against ANYONE or anything.)

Paul and Seth I convinced Steve to stop at the first water stop, because I hadn't eaten much of anything that morning. I grabbed a pbj, some melon, and more gatorade. Steve and Mike went to use the facilities. Paul moved over into that area to wait for them. When I was done eating, I couldn't find any of them. (What's that... the third or fourth time?) I looked around for awhile, and saw no sign of them.

After camping by the exit for a minute, I saw a guy in Steve's jersey way up ahead, riding slow and looking around. I wasn't sure it was him, but it could have been (the jersey was an old PMC jersey, there were a couple dozen of that model around on Sunday), and I had already decided not to waste a lot of time looking for people who might not be there.

I left, and quickly caught the draft of a pair of tandems going about 24 mph on the flats. They didn't want me to work with them, so I just sat back there riding pretty easily for ten miles, until one of them was worn out and the other took a side road. (I don't know where they went, but I saw them again later.) A few minutes later I hooked onto the tail end of a fairly slow team. To make matters worse, there's was one very inexperienced rider between me and this team, and he greatly amplified the accordion effect that's so annoying about riding on the end of a long paceline (ride hard, hit the brakes, ride hard, hit the brakes).

Remember Jack, from 2004? He was there again this year, at the same park. Taller, still healthy, and now holding a sign that said he was ten thanks to us. (Compare the pictures: it looks like his pants from two years ago became this year's shorts!)

Steve, Paul and Mike pulled in a few minutes after I did. Steve said, "Ugh. Paul pulled almost the whole way here." Paul's first words to me were, "How did we not catch you!? We didn't go below 25 mph even on the hills!"

See, that's what I mean. I just love that! He's so enthusiastic! Never mind that they couldn't possibly have been going that fast... it's just so cool that Paul was willing to dump it all to catch me, just for the fun of it. (Of course, in a couple of years when he's stronger he actually will catch me if I only have a couple minutes lead. Oh well.)

After Nickerson State Park, we hit the first set of rail trails for a few miles. Steve and Mike were ahead of us, and we had a small group of poke-a-longs between us. We got around them, and started trading pulls to catch up with them... when my tools all fell out of my saddle bag (which has a hole at one end, and is going to be replaced soon). They were junky old tools that need to be replaced, but Paul refused to let them go. He actually got off his bike and walked back for them while I stood there shaking my head.

We cranked it up again and I told Paul to just hold my wheel until we'd caught his Dad (who I knew wouldn't go too far once he realized his boy wasn't right there with him). When we did catch them, just past the end of the rail trail, Steve said, "Paul, are you ok?!" (That made me smile.)

There was a second set of rail trails. Like the canal road, these "roads" are fun because there's almost no other traffic, the road is pretty good (except for where the tree roots have buckled up the road), and it's quite flat. Zoom, we sped along at high speed, but ha to call out loudly at every intersection because of these huge yellow poles right in the middle of the trail. Hit one of them at speed, and your weekend is over.

At the very end of the last rail trail, there was some confusion about the right hand turn and someone stopped and someone else didn't... and the rider in front of me lost his balance and just fell over to the right, his feet still clipped in. (We've all done, or at least seen, that move at least once before.) I gave him a hand to help him up: he just stayed clipped in, I pulled him up, and he rode off. Steve and Paul didn't wait, though, and so Mike and I didn't see them again until the last water stop at Wellfleet Academy.

At Wellfleet, after recharging my bottles, Steve and bunch of the Huckleberries had their pictures taken on the "ice couch". They were all wearing goofy party hats, and sitting on (what looked like) bearskin rugs laid out over the ice bags... it was such a goofy shot that it made me think, "What happens on the cape, stays on the cape."

Steve wanted to ride out with the Huckleberries, so we all returned to our bikes and moved out onto the road... when someone realized that we weren't all there (double entendre?). I didn't like being stopped in the middle of the road, so I told them I'd coast until they caught up. As soon as I turned the corner (at the bottom of the hill) onto Route 6, Paul caught up with me! "What are you doing here?" I asked in surprise. He didn't know what to say, so I told him to just coast along with me until they showed up. I hope Steve didn't think I'd kidnapped his son or something. ;-) I told Paul one of us might "hear about" him leaving without his Dad, but when Steve caught up all I heard (or imagined?) was a slight note of frustration when he said, "OK, I'm on now, Paul."

I still felt pretty good, so I tried to keep the paceline moving at over 20. As we approached the Provincetown line, Paul and I were in front and Steve yelled "Go Paul, go!" I didn't know what the heck was going on, but I *think* Paul sprinted for the town line all by himself. Like father, like son!

Shortly afterward, I rode off the front of the line without even knowing it, and someone grumped at me about it when I slowed down again to let them catch up. The Huckleberries were gone, and it was just back to the four of us. Later, Mike and I did it again (except Mike suddenly turned into a bullet, hitting 30 on the flats for a few seconds).

At the top of the last dune, we noodled for a while until the Davis's caught us. We all wanted Paul to finish first.

The huge cheering crowd at the Provincetown Inn finish line always puts a smile on my face, but even better was watching Steve and Paul ride over the line, Steve holding Paul's left hand up in the air and smiling so big I thought his face would split. When he could catch his breath, he bellowed "He's 15 years old!" and the crowd cheered again, even louder.

Most of the 2006 Huckleberries Hey Paul! Congratulations on your first PMC! You're a lot of fun to ride with, and I hope you never lose your enthusiasm for just riding for the fun of it. (And congrats to Steve, as I know you've been very excited about this day for a long time!)

The rest of the Huckleberries showed up a couple minutes later, and we all had our pictures taken.

Highlights from the rest of the day:

  • I didn't send a bag to the P-town finish this year, since there was really no point! Corinne was going to meet me at the family finish, so I couldn't even take a shower here as I still had two more miles to ride.

  • I moseyed over to the food tent, ate some lunch, and repeatedly tried to call Corinne. It just kept going to voicemail.

  • Finally saw Mark and Andy, they'd been back for a while (of course, they're very fast). Tony was there too, but hadn't been back for quite so long.

  • Finally talked to Corinne, she'd been at the Family finish since a little before 10. It was now 10:50, I'd been done for almost an hour. If I had ridden straight to the FF after having our pictures taken, I probably would have beaten her there, but it would have been close. In stead, she got to wait for an hour. (Every other year, she's been stuck in traffic so I didn't hurry to get there this year. So, of course, she got there on time.)

  • The ride to the FF was uneventful. It took me longer to find Corinne sitting on the back of the car in the parking lot than it did for me to ride over there.

  • The drive home was pretty uneventful, also. We stopped at some roadside seafood stand for lunch (there are at least a few of those on the cape, you know), and at a gas station at the Sagamore Bridge for gas. Oh, and at the Dunkin Donuts on exit 6 and exit 3 for Coolattas (because the first one's machine was broken!)

  • I went to bed at 5, woke up briefly to eat some food put in front of me by my loving wife, and then went back to sleep again until just before the alarm went off on Monday morning. Ahhhhhh... almost fourteen hours.

Stats: 78.24 miles (125.9 km) in 3h 57' 31" for an average speed of 19.76 mph (31.82 kph).

And for the whole weekend:

Summary of rides from 8/4/06 to 8/6/06
Rides: 3 Miles: 283.13 miles (455.65 km) Time: 14h 28m 42s
Avg. Speed: 19.55 mph (31.47 kph) Avg. Miles: 94.37 miles (151.87 km) Avg. Time: 4h 49m 34s
Fastest 19.76 mph (31.8 kph) Miles: 78.24 miles (125.91 km) Date: 8/6/06
Slowest 19.44 mph (31.29 kph) Miles: 93.45 miles (150.39 km) Date: 8/4/06

One last thing:

A really big thank you and an "I love you" to my wonderful wife, who (once again) schlepped all of our stuff all over the state. We know we want to do things differently next time (whether that's next year or the year after), but I really appreciate everything you did for me this year. Again.

Page last updated: 8/12/2006

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